So history is being made - there is an African American Democratic nominee for President of the United States of America - and this morning my two young, caramel-colored sons (ages 12 and 10) accompanied me as I photographed this "Obama for President" sign defaced with the word "Nigga," that stands literally around the bend from our house. Just a few days earlier I had discussed with them the Obama effigy-hanging incident at George Fox College in "far away" Newberg, Ore.
Almost 12 years ago in November 1996, when we moved into our home in this good neighborhood, we awoke our first morning to find a welcome of racist graffiti on the garage door of our neighbor, who happened to be our realtor. "It's an anomaly," he proclaimed, and quickly painted it over.
Here we are in September 2008, in the midst of an unprecedented presidential election and we are being bombarded with media headlines stating how racism will hurt Obama's chances. At the same time many people are attempting to "paint it over" saying, "But look how far you've come; that's those others over there; ignore it, keep your eyes on the prize; get over it, after all, you can sit anywhere you like on the bus now..."
I will not "paint it over." It is "painting it over" that has brought us here to this place where racism - prejudice, plus privilege, plus power - permeates everything and nobody wants to admit it, for admitting will burst so many bubbles, destroy so many illusions and reveal the truth. The truth is that "race" is a lie, a social construct, created for reasons of power, control and hierarchy — and it continues to work increasingly well despite the fact that there is no scientific evidence supporting the notion that skin color makes one superior or inferior.
It is melanin that technically, makes one Black, White, or Brown, dividing us, according to the bigots, into the ladder of "races, with White on top?"
I feel that acknowledgment and exposure, by each one of us, of how the lie of race and racism motivates and/or inhibits our actions and beliefs is the only way to begin to unearth this toxin on which the American society has been built, and other societies around the world, stymied, crippled and even destroyed. Also, I recommend a study of melanin and its power and its magic.
In our souls and our hearts we all know the truth, let us find the courage to face it in all its liberating glory, and be freed to live in peace at one with ourselves and all humankind.
Sharon Martini, Portland